The celebrations and events of Navidad



By Marisol Martinez Garcia, SPANISH EDITOR

The holidays are a time for families to get together, eat great food and celebrate traditions. In the Mexican cultures, the holidays or fiestas navideñas, are full of fun traditions like posadas (holiday parties), Noche Buena (Christmas Eve), and día de Reyes (The Three Wise Men Day.)
The fiestas navideñas revolve around religious traditions in Mexico which have a strong Catholic influence. In most households, the fiestas are celebrated nine days prior to Noche Buena and the posadas are celebrated through Jan. 6, which is día de Reyes.
In Mexico, a posada is a celebration which honors the birth of Jesus Christ and the “nativity.” In this celebration friends, family and neighbors gather together to reenact the pilgrimage taken by the Virgin Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem.
Posadas involve cultural customs and rituals that have been in existence for many generations which vary amongst different regions of Mexico. They also consist of good food, traditional songs and piñata breaking.
Posadas, begin by dividing participants into two groups: those asking for posada and those receiving posada. The ceremony is commenced by lighting up candles and singing, “Yo pido posada and posada yo brindo.”
“I love singing the traditional songs and having my baby Jesus in the nativity. I have a blue-eyed baby Jesus. It’s one of my favorite traditions my parent taught me about my culture. I am so proud of being Mexican and the way we celebrate,” said María Daniela Romero, 38, a resident of Concord, Calif.
After singing the posada’s acceptance song, the outside group is invited back in and candy bags are given to those who sang.
In most Posadas, ponche, a traditional hibiscus and tamarind hot drink full of fruits, nuts, and sweet cane, or atole, a traditional hot corn and masa-based drink thick in consistency varying in flavor, are handed out.
Traditional festive food is also served, such as tamales, a mixture of meats wrapped in corn-dough steamed in corn leaves, and pozole, a soup or stew consisting of hominy, seasoned pork meat, garnished with cabbage, radish, onions, and lime juice.
“I enjoy Christmas time. It’s the time I can have tamales, ponche, champurrado, pozole, mole, tostadas, all which I enjoy eating.” said Salvador Barajas, 40, a resident of Hayward, Calif.
Toward the end of the posada, the breaking of the piñata by the children is celebrated. The traditional piñata consists of a brightly colored paper-mâché that form a seven-pointed star which represents the seven deadly sins.
Piñata are traditionally broken with a stick while the participant is blindfolded. It is traditional for the crowd to chant, “dale dale dale,” during the few seconds that are given for a person to try to break the piñata and get the candy out.
During Noche Buena, Mexican families celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and have a traditional meal which mark the last of the posadas.
Additionally, families usually attend a midnight mass, Misa de Gallo (rooster mass). It is called rooster mass because it is said this is the only time a rooster sang at midnight to announce the birth of Jesus Christ.
The last of the fiestas navideñas is el día de Reyes, which celebrate the day that the three wise men gave a gift to Jesus Christ.
In the Mexican tradition, children exchange gifts during el día de Reyes similar to Christmas day. Mexico also celebrates this day by eating rosca de reyes (king’s cake), which is an oval shaped cake that symbolizes a crown that is adorned with dried fruit and nuts.
Inside the cake is a small doll figure that symbolizes the hiding of baby Jesus during King Herod’s order to kill infant boys. Whoever gets the doll will have to host a party of el día de la Candelaria (Presentation of Christ), which is celebrated in February.
“Although some people are not Mexican, they participate in the traditional día de Reyes,” Daisy Hernandez, 29, a resident of Pleasant Hill, told The Pioneer. “I’m not religious in yet I’ve participated in significant other church matters. We did this family gathering where the children received gifts from not Santa but the 3 wise men. It was very interesting, then I learned the whole story about it and I like it.”